Awesome Artsy Prague Past Review

By (Art & Anthropology, Bethel University) - abroad from 09/02/2011 to 12/17/2011 with

SIT Study Abroad: Czech Republic - Arts and Social Change

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was completely worthwhile! I don't have time to explain it all right now but just study abroad and you will not regret it.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

To me it seemed like more work than other study abroad programs I had heard of. SIT seems to have that reputation. We did go to class every single day until the last month: the independent study project. Now academically this was by far the best part because you had the freedom to do any study project you wanted, and it could be art related! (There was still a 15 page paper with art ones, or a 30 page paper with no art.) I traveled to Slovakia to work with a professional bookmaker for mine. Others in my class wrote poetry, followed around a band they admired and interviewed them, worked on photography projects, etc. You do want your own laptop as there are only 2 computers at the school. If you are an artist bring a few basic supplies, but you get a small stipend for more if you enroll in the studio class. They give you a notebook and folders so there is no need to bring your own! Do not buy a metro pass ahead of time either as that is also provided.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

There are very few of them, but they work really hard, even if they are a bit eccentric.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Living with a host family is really cool! This was one of the main ways we were able to interact with the culture. Of course it was more challenging than living with American college students but the payoff is worth it. There was a relatively long commute for me, but I used the public transportation and it was just fine.

* Food:

Very hearty. Meat and potatoes, and more potatoes. Try cesnekova polevka a.k.a. garlic soup! Also try dessert dumplings and something with sourkraut or pickled radish. The Mexican food in Central Europe was horrible, but the Italian food was delicious. The beer is very cheap and very good.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Of course all of my classmates were American, but living with a host family helped. And we did get to meet people on trips, or of our own volition if we were very outgoing. Sometimes it is easy to stay with your native English speaking new friends--your American classmates, but I'm sure it varies from person to person.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't really have many issues but you can get the same feminine products and over-the-counter medicines that are available in the U.S.

* Safety:

I think the main worry is pick-pocketing. The violent crime rates are actually lower than many places in the U.S.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

The food is pretty cheap, beer is pretty cheap, some health things are more expensive. Wine and hard liquor are about the same prices as the U.S. This number would vary based on how often you want to go out. If you are someone who loves to drink and go clubbing, you would certainly spend more than I did. I would go to restaurants occasionally and buy a few items when we traveled, but nothing extravagant.,

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I think $40, BUT I would go out to eat probably twice a week with my friends and there are other random expenses, like things you forgot and gifts
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Beer is the cheapest beverage, except tap water. (Some restaurants won't give that to you though). Eat at home as much as possible so you don't spend too much if you go out with friends.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

We learned it and used the basics a lot, but for more complicated things it was easier to default to English. You see, most people in our generation and a bit above can speak it very well. If you are really motivated, most Czechs will let you practice it with them, but some will just answer you in English.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Chinese II
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Just don't be afraid to make mistakes and you will be more likely to use it at restaurants and other places. Many of my friends would practice with their host family too, but I rarely did. Also, you can request a host family who knows less English when you get there.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Hotel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Independent Study Project
  • learning the language
  • living with a host family
* What could be improved?
  • a little less time spent in class
  • more rigorous art studio class
  • shorter reflection papers
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Give up the straightener for 4 months--American ones will probably break and the ones you can get there are $30+! Bring ONE pair of shorts even though it is fall. We had 1-2 weeks of heat before it cooled down. Then bring lots of scarves and layers! But there was no snow when I was there, just cold rain.